2.6 — Classical Macroeconomics & Say’s Law Debate — Class Content

Meeting Dates

Thursday, October 6, 2022


Today we begin by wrapping up Ricardo’s distribution theory, and turn to the first great debate in the history of economics: the (macroeconomic) debate between Ricardo and Malthus over “general gluts” and Say’s law


Required Readings:

  • Ricardo readings, Malthus Principles of Political Economy, Say A Treatise on Political Economy in Reader
  • finish Ch.5 “Ricardo and Malthus” in Landreth & Colander
  • finish Chs.3-4 “Population, Diminishing Returns, and Rent” and “Ricardo’s System” in Blaug

Questions to Help Your Reading

  • Can there be a “general glut,” a surplus (excess supply) in all markets at the same time?
  • What is Say’s Law?
  • What does Malthus think of Say’s Law?
  • What does Ricardo think of Say’s Law (and Malthus’ response)?


Below, you can find the slides in two formats. Clicking the image will bring you to the html version of the slides in a new tab. The lower button will allow you to download a PDF version of the slides.


You can type h to see a special list of viewing options, and type o for an outline view of all the slides.

I suggest printing the slides beforehand and using them to take additional notes in class (not everything is in the slides)!


Download as PDF


Participation/Discussion Board Posts Due 8 PM Fri Oct 7

This week’s graded discussion is worth 5 points, and can be a combination of discussion in class, and/or posts on the Blackboard Discussion Board by 8 PM this Friday October 7.

Tournament Votes

The second round of the Pre-Classical division of the “Most Interesting Economist in History” tournament is live. Please post your votes in the discussion board.